Nov 2, 2015 | By Alec

Though postal services are sometimes seen as part of the ‘old world’ of communication, various national postal services are readily investing in new digital, delivery and even manufacturing options. The Australia Post is now also set to join those 21rst century communication networks, as their CEO has just announced that they have set up a $20 million AUD fund (or approximately $14 million USD) to incorporate the latest technologies into their services. Among them are drone package deliveries in far corners of massive Australia, 3D printing services operating from post offices and investing in ecommerce startups through the University of Melbourne's Melbourne Accelerator Program (MAP).

Australia Post Managing Director & Group CEO Ahmed Fahour has revealed that this new innovation program is aiming to reach the far corners of the continent, but with a particular focus on regional centers, from which especially the eCommerce startups can operate. The eCommerce focus will be done in collaboration with the University of Melbourne's MAP, first operating out of their Lab-14 premises. ‘We will work with our people, our customers, the community and our partners to identify new opportunities and emerging, disruptive eCommerce businesses that we can accelerate,’ Mr Fahour said.

But to us, the drone delivery and 3D printing services are obviously most exciting. Drone delivery, of course, has also been seen in Amazon’s Prime Air program, and this Australian initiative looks to be operating out of the same principles. The Australian drones will be capable of (just as Amazon’s) carry about 2 kilograms worth of packages, and will be delivered through GPS coordinates. Fahour said the packages would be delivered right to someone’s patio – fantastic for a country where some people have to drive hours before seeing their neighbors.

And like the eCommerce initiatives, the 3D printing services could be operated out of local post offices to enable regular people and startups to benefit from the technology without having to invest in their own machines. ‘Some things you want, like household items, could be printed right there and then rather than waiting for it. This is the new world, the technological revolution as opposed to the industrial revolution,’ the CEO told the AFR.

These investments, and especially those in ecommerce, are all made with an eye on reinvigorating the postal services in Australia. ‘If we only do what we have been doing recently, then as the letter [business] goes down, the usage, then so do we,’ Fahour said. ‘As Australians migrate and become more digitally aware, we want to change with them. We will use the $20 million capital fund, which with the success I expect could grow to more than $100 million over coming years, to directly invest in great eCommerce businesses with ideas that will improve the lives of our customers.’

The University of Melbourne was also particularly pleased with the initiative, as the vice-chancellor professor Glyn Davis said. ‘We believe universities don't just educate our future generations; they are a production line of ideas for new entrepreneurs and new businesses. Harnessing the current mood around Australia's innovation agenda is important, and this investment will go a long way to ensuring that start-up cultures like those at MAP continue to have a prominent role at the University,’ Professor Davis said. ‘This is an investment in the future of entrepreneurship skills development at the University of Melbourne, and will add to our larger push to expand the innovation eco-system across the University and in this city.’

Fahour added that postal services have always changed with the times, so incorporating 3D printers and drones is only a logical next step. ‘Throughout our 207 years of serving the Australian community we have always innovated in response to social and technology changes. And innovation is essential to remaining relevant to our customers as their behavior and expectations change,’ he said. It is currently not known when the services will launch.



Posted in 3D Printing Service



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